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The State of the UK’s Public Parks 2016 published by the Heritage Lottery Fund today [7 September] confirms the downward trend in the condition of parks looks set to continue and warns that many parks and greenspaces may fall back into a state of decline and neglect. Pressure on public finances is making it harder to manage, maintain and safeguard our parks and greenspaces. The report highlights a growing deficit between use of parks and the declining resources available to manage them. It predicts that the quality and condition of many parks will continue to decline if action is not taken now to address this emerging crisis.

Responding to the report, which over 70% of Scottish Councils provided evidence for, Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland said:

“Our parks and greenspaces matter because they aren’t just the space where the kids kick a ball around or where your neighbour walks the dog; they are our natural health service, our children’s outdoor classrooms, our cities’ green lungs – essential to our quality of life, our sense of place and community.

Whilst many of Scotland’s parks are still in good heart, we are rapidly approaching a tipping point leading to the downward spiral of reduced maintenance, poorer quality greenspaces and lower levels of use – meaning we are at risk of losing the wonderful health, social and environmental benefits that quality greenspaces provide.

The State of UK Public Parks report indicates that so far the impact of the cuts has perhaps been less severe in Scotland than in other parts of the UK. But with one of the highest reported percentages of parks in declining condition there is no room for complacency.  Urgent action is needed now to safeguard the legacy of Scotland’s wonderful parks and greenspaces for today and for the benefit of future generations. We recognise the tipping point; now is the time for collaborative and concerted action. We call on the Scottish Government, local authorities, the voluntary sector, businesses and the public to heed this early warning and respond to the HLF’s renewed call for urgent action.”

greenspace scotland supports the HLF’s renewed call for collaborative action across five key areas: (1) continuing local authority leadership, (2) promoting active partnerships, (3) supporting communities to play a more active role, (4) developing new models of management and funding, and (5) compiling, coordinating and updating data.

Read the greenspace scotland special State of Park ebulletin here

Read the full State of UK Public Parks 2016 report here

Current work by greenspace scotland aims to support councils and local groups to sustain our parks and greenspaces. Pioneer programmes looking at Climate Change Parks, ParkPower and food growing are developing new approaches to management. The Scottish Park Managers Forum brings together park officers from across Scotland to share practice and collectively find ways to respond to the challenges.  MyParkScotland provides a new way for people to discover, enjoy and support parks; it is Scotland’s only crowdfunding platform specifically for parks and greenspaces, and uses gift aid to boost the value of donations to start to build an endowment for our parks. The new Greenspace Map will be published in 2017 providing comprehensive information on the location, type and extent of all of Scotland’s greenspace.